Hearing Help from the Bottom of the Sea?

A small marine creature may hold the key to reversing hearing loss.

Photograph: Chiara Sinigaglia
The Starlet Sea Anemone Photograph: Chiara Sinigaglia

The Starlet Sea Anemone (Nematostella vectensis) is a fairly simple animal with a very basic sense of hearing. But it can pull off a very neat trick.

It has hair cells that sprout from its tentacles and detect vibrations. Human beings also rely on hair cells to detect the vibrations that form sound.  But unlike humans, the anemone can regenerate its lost or damaged hair cells.

Now Dr. Glen Watson of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette appears to have figured out how they do it, and his research may have exciting implications in the search for a treatment to reverse hearing loss in humans.

The full story can be found here in The Economist and there’s another article explaining his research in the U.K.s Daily Mail.

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